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Full text of "History And Human Relation"

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the student of the past is dealing with nothing less than
the irrepressibility of human beings and the unsleeping
flow of life itself.

But this action of individual people is not really*
sovereign action, and precisely the study of history makes
us see how highly it is conditioned. The men who
composed the France of 1789 were not autonomous
god-like creatures acting in a world of unconditioned
freedom; and even their waywardnesses were not really
waywardness. The very situations to which they had
to adjust themselves day by day were the product of
history—not the deposit of one particular streanf of
events, not the imaginable result of one selected line of
causes—but things which required nothing less than
the whole of previous history for their explanation.
Besides the truism that human beings are the real makers
of history there is the truism that all the past is necessary
for the historical explanation of all the present; and
all interpretations of history are misleading us if we
imagine that they can short-circuit this thesis or give
us an easy unravelling of the intricate network of inter-
actions that history presents. And not only the situa-
tions they had to meet but the men of 1789 themselves
were very much the products of history; the mentality
that each brought to the situation, the ideas they pos-
sessed, their modes of reasoning, their unconscious
assumptions, the very language in which they did their
thinking were things which the historian would only
explain by examining antecedents.

For men who work upon history are themselves
partly moulded by it in the first place, conditioned by
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